Navy quarterback Bob Powers can see it clearly: "One game, a team will put eight people up front to stop our running game and maybe we'll have to throw 35 to 40 times."

Neither Powers nor Coach George Welsh wants to throw that much in one game, particularly since the Mids' passing attack has been sporadic and inconsistent.

"No, we haven't improved in our passing game yet," Welsh said today. "But as long as we're moving the ball well on the ground, we won't have to throw that much. We called 20 pass plays Saturday (against Illinois) and that's about as many as well call.

"Bob ran some and a few times he didn't get the ball off," Welsh said, "but I'm not dissastisfied with him or the passing game. We didn't expect to be a passing team."

While Powers admits he would like to throw more than his 11-attempt average, he is content to hand off to running backs Mike Sherlock (332 yards) and Steve Callahan (223) or run the ball himself on quarter back keeper plays.

Powers has completed 15 of 33 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice. The 6-foot-3, 210 pound senior has been guilty of scrambling out of the pocket too soon and failing to spot open receivers, yet Navy has a 3-0 record.

"I missed a couple of secondary receivers in the Illinois game," said Powers. "It's something I have to work on. I'm not very happy with our passing game yet; we have to iron out a few things.

"All quarterbacks like to throw, of course, but I don't mind not going to the air that much. I'll do whatever it takes for us to win."

Both Powers and leading receiver Dave Dent hope the passing game improves enough in the next few games so the Pittsburghs and Notre Dames down the road won't be able to stack up against the run.

"We have to be prepared to throw," said Dent, who has six catches for 67 yards and one touchdown. "When we play the to,gher teams our passing attack has to be good enough to keep them off balance. We haven't exactly killed anyone yet with our passing, but then we're basically a running team."

The Mids' air attack probably will be grounded Saturday against winless Air Force (0-4). Since the Falcons have allowed an average of 264 yards rushing per game, the Navy game plan of run, run and run away probably will not vary much.

"We don't plan to change anything." said Welsh. "Perhaps we should work on the passing game a little more for Bob's sake.

"But if I did that we'd ahve to take time away from something else.

On area Welsh will not ignore is the defense. The Mids have allowed only 151 yards per game and are ranked first in the country among the NCAA division 1-A schools.

Three of Navy's starting defensive linemen, Steve Chambers, John Merrill and Terry Huxel, suffered minor inj,ries in Navy's 13-2 victory over Illinois. Welsh said all three "should be fine Saturday."

Tight end Carl Hendershot will be sidelined and cornerback/kick return Jon Ross is questionable, both with shoulder injuries. Callahan will handle the kickoff and punt returns in place of Ross.

"We got beat up pretty bad. It was a tough, physical game and it took its toll on us," said Welsh. "But you have seven days to get ready. (Roger) Staubach told me that once."

Navy cornerback Charlie Meyers, voted ABC-TV defensesive player of the game against Illinois for stopping two extra point attempts to preserve the victory, also was this week's ECAC player of the week.